Liberals Want Jobs Program, Not Jobs Summit

Frustration swells with high unemployment and low electoral prospects

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With a dismal jobless figure of 10.2 percent, President Obama is taking heat from liberals as he convenes his jobs summit this Thursday. A central fear among Democratic lawmakers is that if the job situation doesn't turn around, they too will be out of work as voters seek vengeance in 2010. But Obama's reluctance to increase the federal deficit makes a major jobs initiative unlikely. Here's a glimpse at the frustration on the left:

  • In Deep with the Left, writes Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic: "The left, broadly, wants to forget about the deficit for a while, to target structural unemployment first, and to focus on redistributing the wealth from Wall Street to Main Street. The president's most trenchant critics denounce his seeming crouch before the predatory tiger of Wall Street and the Big Banks, both of whom have managed to squeeze profit out of this economy."
  • Obama's "Squaring a Circle," writes Harold Meyerson, The Washington Post's in-house blue-collar advocate: "For weeks, virtually every White House employee with the power of speech has made clear that the president doesn't intend to increase the deficit, and that the idea of a second stimulus is a non-starter. Boosting the economy without increasing government spending on jobs is squaring a circle, however."
  • "This Is Wrong and Unacceptable," writes liberal economist Paul Krugman in The New York Times: "The damage from sustained high unemployment will last much longer. The long-term unemployed can lose their skills, and even when the economy recovers they tend to have difficulty finding a job, because they're regarded as poor risks by potential employers. Meanwhile, students who graduate into a poor labor market start their careers at a huge disadvantage -- and pay a price in lower earnings for their whole working lives. Failure to act on unemployment isn't just cruel, it's short-sighted."
  • Minorities Are Seething! writes Michael E. Ross at The Grio. Though President Obama enjoyed broad support from minorities, who generally lean left, he risks losing their support: "The six organizations -- the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the Center for Community Change, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the Economic Policy Institute and the National Council of La Raza -- called on Obama to step up efforts at job creation, and said the president's recent $787 billion stimulus program wasn't enough to fight unemployment."
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